Hi Ben, thanks for taking part in Life as I See It. We can’t wait to hear how the equine therapy on the farm is progressing.
“Thanks for the invite. I’m just back from seeing a horse who’s going to be joining us on the farm very soon.
Oh, that sounds exiting! Tell us more.
“Blossom’s a brown and white cob who’s around thirteen hands and only seven. She’s led an active life with a child who’s outgrown her, and I think she’s going to be ideal for working with the younger people who visit us.
So, as well as Bella and the farm, what’s the best thing you’ve got going on in your life now?
“Settling here in Yorkshire with my fiancée Daisy. I lived in New York when I worked in finance and eventually the crazy hours caught up with me. Now every day I take a few minutes to look around and see how far I’ve come since I left my career. Daisy is incredibly supportive and always makes me laugh.
That’s so lovely, Ben. If you were allowed to find out everyone who was secretly in love with you at some point in their life, would you want to know?
“I don’t think that would be a good idea, so no. Quite a short list too (laughs).”
Don’t be too hard on yourself (also laughs). Next question. In ten years’, time, will you be proud of what you are doing now?
“Definitely. Daisy and I took over the farm after the previous owner retired. We’ve had to learn a massive amount very quickly, adapt and there’s been a few mistakes for sure. Every time someone reaches out to a horse, and I see the hope in their eyes when they make that first connection, then I know every single second is worth it.”
How wonderful to see the difference your work makes; it must be very special. Okay, so what does your inner voice tell you?
“Listen to Daisy, she’s very wise and often right about most things. Except music, we have very different tastes. She loves everything about the eighties, me not so much.”
Love that! What are your strongest beliefs about?
‘I think I’d say recognising when you need support and to reach out; I was lucky to find the right help when I needed it after becoming unwell in my previous job. And to make time for people in your life. I found it easy to be one person at a party and someone else in private. I think I’m a more rounded person now and it’s taken time to get here.”
Good advice, Ben. What is important on your to-do list but not urgent?
“Checking the fencing around the farm. We’ve got a New Forest pony called Warrior and his name really suits him, he’s such a big personality even though he’s so small. If there’s a weak link in a fence, he’ll find it and be away for a new adventure. He can also open his stable door and he’s more trouble than all the other horses put together.”
What have you done recently that made you feel great?
“I played guitar at a music festival with my stepson Josh’s band. I’ve gigged with them a couple of times and was ridiculously grateful they let a guy like me play on stage with the cool kids. The band’s great and I think they’re really going to make it. Just not with me, obviously. Josh is trying to teach me drums but I’ll always be a guitarist at heart. I’d like to say my latest triathlon made me feel great, but my knees were complaining afterwards.”
Ouch. Sounds like you need to take it easy for a bit. What keeps you awake at night?
“Occasionally I wonder if Warrior has escaped but otherwise not much. I work outdoors and it’s great for being able to crash at night. I practise yoga and that helps if I need it.”
Whom are you trying to avoid being like?
“Maybe the old me. I was so focussed on winning and getting ahead in my career. Life is much better now and I’m thankful for the people I have in it.”
So, we all have our vices. What’s yours?
“I’m very tidy and Daisy likes a bit more clutter. We’ve both learned to live with it. I am coming around to the idea that Daisy’s way is better though. She has a fantastic eye for design. The farmhouse needed a lot of work but now it’s a real blend of us both and feels like a proper home.”
It sounds lovely, we don’t mind a bit of clutter. Could you achieve more by doing just half as much?
“I don’t think so. Working with people through equine therapy means there’s a lot we have to get right, and we take all the training and safeguarding incredibly seriously. It’s a privilege to be a small part of helping to improve someone’s life and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
What’s something that no one knows about you?
“I fell off a horse the first time I ever sat on one and my mum helped me get straight back on. I was always very determined and to this day she doesn’t know I sneaked back out to the yard when I was supposed to be in bed, got the pony tacked up and tried again. She’d laugh now, I don’t think she would’ve done then. I guess it worked because I did well at eventing for a few years.”
Brave or crazy, Ben, we’re not sure! Maybe she’s about to find out if she’s listening now. What thoughts come to mind when you are relaxed?
“What’s Warrior up to? No seriously, just how grateful I am to be living in such a wonderful place with Daisy and doing a job that means so much.”
What do you need help with most often?
“I wouldn’t say no to a bit of help with mucking out now and then. It’s relentless, even though our horses live out as naturally as possible most of the year. Daisy does it with me sometimes, but she has her own business to run.”
Is there anything missing in your life?
“No, because I don’t miss something I don’t have. I had a lot of stuff before I didn’t need, and it was good to clear it out of my life. I try and keep things simple.”
Would you tell us what you’d like to be remembered for?
“Someone who made time for others would be a good one, I think. It’s very easy to get busy with your own life and forget to notice someone else’s.”
Who do you admire in your life?
“Daisy, because she’s got such a great heart and taught me more about making time for others and being kind. And Edwin, who had the farm before us. He’s a cranky old beggar and I’ve learned to appreciate the grumpier he is, the more he likes you. I’d worry if he was nice to me. He’s taught me so much about the farm and we really respect his legacy and that lifetime of knowledge. He’ll always be a part of this place.”
If you were offered the chance to feel happy all the time, would you take it?
“Tempting but no. I’ve experienced some terrible lows and I think the moments of joy and times of contentment are what keep us going. That, and knowing you’re loved as you are.”
Do you believe that love has to be mutual?
“I think it has to be for a couple to work in the long term.”
Seeing your favourite band live at Glastonbury or playing on stage yourself? Which would you choose?
“Oh, the band, definitely. I’m nowhere near good enough to play there and if I ever do get on a Glastonbury stage it’ll be watching Josh and his band, which would be an even bigger thrill. One day.”
Thorndale or Montana? Could you pick just one?
‘Tough but I’d have to say Thorndale because it’s home now. Montana is an incredible place for a rider like me, and I spent time there recovering from my illness, so I’ll always love it. Daisy and I are going back next year to stay with friends who have a ranch.”
What are you still learning about yourself?
“That exercise helps keep me balanced. I still do the occasional triathlon and I find the training therapeutic, even if I hate dragging myself out for a run at night.”
When you look at the world, what is most fascinating to you?
“How incredibly beautiful it can be and how easy to miss if you’re not looking. I like to keep taking those moments.”
When do you underestimate yourself?
“When Warrior looks me in the eye. Seriously though, occasionally I wake up and wonder what we’ve taken on but the minute I’m with the horses again I know I’m doing the right thing.”
Is it best to judge people by their intentions or their actions?
“I’m not really a fan of trying to tell others where they’ve gone wrong. I’m far from perfect.”
What do you hope everyone has the chance to figure out in their lifetime?
“Themselves. And that peace and contentment go an awful long way.”
Where do you feel the most like yourself?
“On the farm, with Daisy and the family. I’d love to say on stage as well but I’m not that good!”
And finally, what are you most excited to do in your lifetime?
“Getting married in the summer is the big thing coming up and Josh’s band are already booked to play. I hope to keep on with the equine therapy and play a small part in making a difference to other people’s lives.”
Thanks Ben, for telling us about life as you see it. You can catch up with everything going on at Low Gill Farm on Instagram. They do amazing work and those shots of the horses in the fields are always stunning.
Next time we’re chatting about life with Tom Bellingham, former actor turned crime novelist who you might recognise from a classic and popular TV series. We’re looking forward to hearing about his new book and what fans of his most famous character think of his change of career.
© Suzanne Snow 2022